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LifeShield adds home automation capabilities

 - 
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

LifeShield, a provider of wireless security systems based in Langhorne, Pa., recently added more home automation capabilities for its customers.   

“The big thing for us is making sure that our customers have additional use out of their systems,” Doug Bellenger, chief product officer for LifeShield, told Security Systems News.

The LifeShield S30 base is now certified to work with Z-Wave devices. The company has added capabilities with lights, locks, thermostats, garage door controls and voice control through Amazon’s Alexa. “And we’ve added IFTTT to help us connect our customers to the larger IoT ecosystem,” he said. “Part of this integration is obviously making sure they’re available via our applications.”

LifeShield customers have been looking for more home automation, Bellenger said, and the company started working on these automation efforts in January of this year.

LifeShield was founded in 2004 and in 2013 was acquired by DIRECTV. After purchasing DIRECTV, AT&T divested the LifeShield business. LifeShield was then purchased in May of 2017 by Hawk Capital Partners.

“By pairing home automation, voice control, and an improved video experience with our existing wireless home security packages, LifeShield’s capabilities offer everything customers need to create a safe and convenient home environment at an incredible value,” Mike Hagan, LifeShield’s original co-founder and current CEO, said in a prepared statement.

SIA issues guidance on tariff exclusion process

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Security Industry Association (SIA) recently provided an update and info on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)’s announcement of a process to obtain product exclusions from Section 301 tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods imported to the United States. In effect as of Friday, July 6, an additional 25 percent tariff applies to 56 tariff subheadings identified by SIA as impacting security-related products.

USTR is now considering exclusion requests “to address situations that warrant excluding a particular product within a subheading, but not the tariff subheading as a whole.”

Since exclusions will be made on a product and not a company basis, exclusions will apply to all imports of the product regardless of whether the importer filed a request.

The exclusion process has the following important dates and features:

•    The public will have 90 days to file a request for a product exclusion; the request period will end on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
•    Following public posting of the filed request on regulations.gov, the public will have 14 days to file responses to the request for product exclusion. After the close of the 14-day response period, interested persons will have an additional 7 days to reply to any responses received in support of or opposition to the request.
•    Exclusions will be effective for one year upon the publication of the exclusion determination in the Federal Register and will apply retroactively to July 6.

In evaluating requests, USTR will consider whether:

•    A product is available from a source outside of China
•    The additional duties would cause severe economic harm to the requestor or other U.S. interests
•    The particular product is strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs including “Made in China 2025”

SIA wants to ensure affected members review the official notice and are aware of the opportunity for an exclusion via regulations.gov. Additionally, SIA asks members to share any specific products covered within these categories “that they believe may qualify for exclusion and are important to the U.S. security industry, in order to assist us in analyzing this issue.”

Security Systems News is also looking at this topic in our News Poll this month, so please weigh in by voting and commenting.

 

Changes, additions coming to GSX 2018

 - 
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ASIS International recently announced changes for this year’s Global Security Exchange, to be held Sept 23-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, including new stages on the exhibit floor as well as career development opportunities.

“We have completely re-engineered GSX to provide more opportunities for security practitioners, solution providers, students, military and first responders. From Career HQ and the International Trade Center to our three unique theaters of education and live demos, attendees and exhibitors will find tremendous value in our immersive, engaging, and informative expo hall,” Richard E. Chase, CPP, PCI, PSP, 2018 president, ASIS International, said in the announcement.

The exhibit floor at GSX will now include three new “X Learning Theaters.” The “X Stage” will feature technologies and their impacts across the industry; such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, AI, drones and robotics, social media and the digital self. The “Xcelerated Exchange Stage,” will provide a forum for discussions between practitioners and solution providers to proactively address the current and future security landscape. Lastly, the “Xperience Stage” at GSX will showcase case studies and other best practices that address security challenges practitioners face across all industry sectors, including active shooter scenarios, bullying in the healthcare industry, and the risks associated with hosting a public event at cultural institutions.

The new “Career HQ” will have a career fair and enhanced career center, according to ASIS. “Job seekers will have access to resume reviews, a headshot studio, career coaching, professional development sessions and networking opportunities with employers and peers—all free. The new career fair will have top companies looking to hire talent, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Apple,” the announcement read.

ASIS also announced the “D3 Xperience.” This event, supported by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), will educate attendees on the impact of unmanned systems on the security industry. Education and demos will showcase the emerging technology around the use of drones, droids and counter-UAV defense systems.

Lastly, the Innovative Product Awards Showcase will highlight new products and services on the GSX show floor that are poised to disrupt the security marketplace. The submission deadline for the IPAs is Aug. 3.

“In addition to these features, the exhibit floor will house an International Trade Center and the ASIS Hub, which includes access to ASIS Council representatives, live streaming interviews, and fireside chats,” ASIS said in its announcement.

VIZpin names Wendi Grinnell as VP

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

VIZpin, a designer and manufacturer of the VIZpin smartphone-based, Bluetooth enabled access entry system, has announced the appointment of Wendi Grinnell to the newly created position of vice president, effective immediately.

Grinnell, of Elizabethtown, is a graduate of Rutgers University and has 20 years of marketing and sales leadership experience. She joined VIZpin in January 2017 in the role of marketing director.

According to VIZpin president and CEO Paul Bodell, the role of VP was added to the company’s organization to support VIZpin’s rapid growth and market expansion.

“Wendi’s extensive industry experience in customer-focused technology solutions and technical marketing make her a natural fit for the important role of Vice President,” Bodell said in the announcement. “Her contributions as marketing director have been invaluable, and we are eager for her to apply her innovative thinking and vision in her new, expanded role to continue enhancing VIZpin’s strategic direction and driving additional growth and profitability.”

As vice president, Grinnell will work closely with Bodell to determine VIZpin’s overall business strategy. She will have an integral role in the development and execution of the company’s growth strategy to achieve strategic business objectives, including leading sales and marketing efforts and team members to secure new business and expand existing business.

 “Since joining VIZpin, it has been exciting to see such a dramatic shift in the industry with the adoption of smartphone access control,” Grinnell said. “There are many new opportunities to explore, and as Vice President, I am looking forward to helping to create and execute new strategies to continue to expand our brand and grow the business.”
 

Save the date for Mission 500’s 2018 softball game

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mission 500 recently sent out a save the date announcement for its annual security industry softball game fundraiser, which will take place on Aug. 26. The game will be from noon to 3 PM at Overpeck County Park, located at 199 Challenger Road in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.

This will be the fourth annual softball game hosted by Mission 500, with the first occurring in 2015. “Our biggest growth, and where it’s kind of exciting, has been—in addition to raising more funds and supporting more programs—engaging the industry, both professionally and even on a personal level,” Jeff Eichenlaub, director of strategic partnerships for Mission, told Security Systems News. “Last year some of our partners actually brought out clients, families to be part of the event and it was really exciting to see the industry come together.”  

In 2017, individuals from 20 companies (along with their children) participated and helped raise over $45,000.

Mission 500 will also be hosting a Back to School Care Pack event at the game with a goal of assembling 200 book bags filled with school supplies. Every $27 donated fills one backpack for donation to local children in need. “We’ve made that a tradition,” Eichenlaub said. “That’s important because it’s an opportunity for us as an organization to inspire other folks to do things. Part of the goal of mission 500 is to not just do our own events, but to really be a catalyst in the industry.”

Sponsorships are available between $500 and $5,000. Companies contributing over $1,500 will have the option to designate one or two players to a team.

This year’s sponsors include: ADI, Altronix, Anixter, Axis Communications, Brooklyn Voltage Supply, Commercial Architecture Magazine, Dahua USA, DMP, ESA New Jersey Chapter, Hanwha Techwin America, ISC Events, Ken Gould Consulting, LRG Marketing Communications, Napco StarLink, NYFAA, PSA Security Network, Rapid Response, ScanSource, SD&I, Security Sales & Integration, Security Systems News, and Security Today.

Video surveillance equipment market growing

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Growth in the global professional video surveillance equipment market accelerated in 2017, and is forecasted to continue growing in 2018, according the latest IHS Markit research.

The world market for professional video surveillance equipment grew by 9.3 percent in 2017, IHS found, a much higher rate of growth than in 2016 (3.9 percent) and 2015 (1.9 percent).

“Increased government spending on equipment to fight crime and terrorism was a major factor in this growth, as was private sector spending on replacing equipment in retail and commercial installations,” Jon Cropley, senior principal analyst, video surveillance, IHS Markit, said in a summary of the study.

Increasing demand for security cameras is expected in 2018, he said, but a slightly lower of level of price erosion is also forecast. The combination of these factors will lead to 10.2 percent growth in the video surveillance equipment market, which will reach $18.5 billion in 2018, IHS noted.

Global demand for security cameras grew rapidly in 2017, but average prices continued to fall. “Nevertheless, revenue grew in most countries,” said Cropley. “Two of the fastest-growing country markets were Brazil and India. A major factor behind the growth in both countries was increased spending by private retail and commercial organizations on HD CCTV systems used to prevent crime.”

Accounting for 44 percent of all global revenue, the Chinese professional video surveillance equipment market grew by 14.7 percent, while the world market excluding China grew just 5.5 percent. “One major reason for the higher growth in China was the government’s Xue Liang program driving investment in both city surveillance projects and extending city surveillance systems into surrounding rural areas,” Cropley noted.

Other key findings include:
•    Although it remains highly fragmented compared to many other markets, the supply base for professional video surveillance equipment is gradually becoming more concentrated. The top 15 vendors accounted for 62 percent of global revenue in 2017.

•    Overall, 62 percent of all security cameras shipped in 2017 were network cameras.

•    Deep-learning-enabled recorders and servers, a new category this year, are an important element in powering what many expect to be the next generation of video analytics using artificial intelligence. They accounted for just 1 percent of global market revenues in 2017.
 

’20 under 40’ nomination deadline extended

 - 
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We’ve been receiving a lot of great submissions for our “20 under 40” awards but we’d like to give companies more time to submit their best and brightest professionals under the age of 40.

The new deadline is July 20, 2018. Please have all of your nominations submitted by this date.

This award is a great way to recognize up-and-coming professionals—from either the integrator side or the end user side—and those eligible can certainly nominate themselves.

As a reminder, we do have two classes in our annual “20 under 40” awards, each class containing 20 professionals. We have our Integrator class, which includes integrators, installers, dealers or monitoring center professionals. We also have our End User class, which encompasses security directors and professionals that protect non-security companies.

Unfortunately, manufacturers and consultants are not eligible for this award.

If you—or a professional you know—stand out in either of these categories, click here to enter a nomination.

All of our winners of these two classes will be recognized at a special reception at Security Systems News’ 2019 TechSec Solutions conference. This event will be held in Delray Beach, Fla., at the Delray Beach Marriott, Feb. 25 and 26, 2019.

SIA market index: Industry confidence begins to rebound

 - 
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

SIA recently released its July 2018 Security Market Index (SMI), which showed industry confidence rebounding after a slight drop in confidence in May.

“After a rocky spring, confidence within the security industry seems to be recovering slightly,” according to the report. “Improvement in a variety of areas, including product production, new product introductions and new orders, led to a July 2018 Security Market Index (SMI) of 65. Any index above 50 indicates that conditions within the industry are largely positive and that security industry professionals are largely confident in their business prospects. The May 2018 SMI was 55, and the March 2018 SMI was 72.”

Special focuses of the July 2018 edition of SMI include:
•    Confidence in the surveillance segment climbing, cautiously
•    Slowing growth for integrators
•    Access control professionals broadly positive moving into summer
•    Consultants holding steady, but with little improvement
•    A bonus feature on government spending and security

According to SIA, the majority of security professionals surveyed for the July 2018 SIA Security Market Index “are at least cautiously optimistic about the prospect of increased security spending this year as a result of the recently enacted Omnibus Appropriations Act. Nearly a quarter of SMI survey respondents were ‘very optimistic about increased spending.’”

Many SIA members cited the poor timing or late release of the FY18 federal budget as the cause for “less than ideal current business conditions” in May.

“After the Omnibus Appropriations Act was enacted, however, more projects and new orders started trickling down, said one video surveillance professional,” the report noted. “One security systems integrator noted, however, that ‘if we start a trade war, (mess) up the immigrant inflow and keep proposing up coal, we’ll not continue the economic growth.’”

Overall, most security professionals surveyed for the July 2018 SIA Security Market Index (surveyed between June 1 and June 15, 2018) consider current business conditions to be either “excellent” (45 percent) or “good” (35 percent).

The majority of security industry professionals surveyed for the July 2018 Security Market Index cited increases in the number of employees or hours worked, marketing spending, product production, new product introductions, product or service sales and new orders.

For capital equipment spending, most (52 percent) said rates were remaining the same, but 48% said spending was increasing, which is improvement compared with May 2018, when only 34 percent were seeing increased capital equipment spending and 12 percent cited decreases.

For security systems integrators only 29 percent consider current business conditions to be “excellent,” compared with 45 percent of the SMI overall. A further 43 percent consider current conditions “good,” but 28 percent believe current conditions are either “average” or “fair.”

Overall, the integrator-specific Index for July 2018 is 59, down three points from its May 2018 level of 62.
   
Over the next three months, most integrators believe business conditions will be either “much better” (29 percent) or “a little better” (57 percent). This is a little more optimistic than the outlook from June 2017, when only 14 percent of integrators expected conditions over the next quarter to be “much better,” with 71 percent expecting “a little better” conditions.

Click here for the full report, including details on increasing confidence in the surveillance and access control segments, as well as info on security consultants, 75 percent of whom consider current business conditions as “excellent.”
 

Daily updates from ESX 2018

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Friday, June 22

There have been several natural disasters in the past year, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Companies need to know what to do in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. In “Monitoring Center Down! How to Improve Recovery Time when Natural Disasters Strike,” a group of speakers discussed how disaster recovery works in the security industry and more specifically within monitoring centers.

Steve Butkovich, CTO at CPI Security, led the conversation, with Matt Narowski, VP of operations at Bold Technologies, Cliff Dice, president and CEO of DICE, and Roberto Morales, CFO and COO of Genesis Security Services. 

Instead of focusing on recovering after a disaster, companies should look at business continuity, how to keep a business moving forward in the event of a disaster, Narowski said, and that starts with putting a plan in place that encompasses potential disasters and how to deal with them. 

Monitoring centers can be impacted by more than just weather events, Narowski noted, such as man made accidents, IT mishaps, loss of utilities, or phishing attempts to name a few. 

Narowski outlined the soft and hard costs in setting up a business continuity plan; soft costs are the research and information gathering to set up the plan, yards costs include items like back up facilities and networking equipment. 

Cliff presented a case study, of a medical alert company utilizing DICE for its disaster recovery during a hurricane. He discussed that the set up can look right, but other factors can impede roll over to the DR site, like errors in accounting or the company trying to utilize numbers that were no longer connected. Though, DICE was able to iron things out. 
 
Drawing on recent experience, Morales discussed what it was like to operate a monitoring center in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. Maintaining power was  one challenge, he said; Genesis utilized a diesel generator 24/7 for about 4 months, which meant procuring that much fuel. During the emergency, the company kept a stock of food, water and beds for its workers. 

Morales also pointed out some of the measures Genesis has built in post-hurricane, such as a 1,300 gallon diesel tank for its generator and a contract with a main fuel provider, implementing solar panels for additional energy and increasing internet redundancies.

As I’ve seen throughout the industry in recent years, cybersecurity is certainly a growing concern. The session I next went to handled how this threat applies to monitoring centers. “HACKED! Important Steps to Protect your Company (and Yourself) AFTER a Cyberattack,” featured the moderator Sascha Kylau, vice president of central station solutions and services for OneTel Security, and panelists Jay Grant, senior systems engineer with Symantec, and Joshua Grecko, senior vice president of engineering.

Grecko opened the session with a brief overview of UL 2900, the new cyber standard from UL, and some of its iterations. He also covered coming changes to UL 827, such as the inclusion of more NIST standards.

Grant asked the audience: What do you do after you’ve been hacked? At that point it’s too late. “Grab a coworker and have a good cry,” because it’s going to be a bad day, he said. Companies should focus on what they have in place for detection, instead of waiting until you’ve been hacked, and recognize the most valuable assets in their company—the ones that absolutely need to be protected.

At the end of the day, hackers will probably get in, Grant said, but companies can stop hackers from getting everything and kick them out of the system with next to nothing for their effort. That’s the goal, he said.

There are a variety of tactics and technologies that can help with false alarms, and the session “Plagued by False Alarms? Audio/Video Alarm Verification Best Practices” brought up quite a few of them. Steve Walker, VP of Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, Mike Tupy, director of monitoring technology for Vivint, David Snyder, VP of security operations for Eyewitness Surveillance, and Tom Nakatani, IT VP—customer monitoring technology and product for ADT Security, were on the panel, with Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, as the session’s moderator.

Ninety-eight percent of alarms are false, Folsom said, citing the number from the Texas Police Chiefs Association. In addition to that, outbound calls made during an alarm are often going unanswered, as people don’t often pick up their phone if they don’t recognize the number, Folsom said. False alarms are expensive, and they take up law enforcement resources. “I believe the answer is better information,” Folsom said.

Each of the panelists presented on one technology that they were familiar with. First, Walker presented on video verification. While this technology results in a better decision on alarms, it takes time to review video clips. Verification also requires operators to judge the intent of people on cameras at a location; all in all, while it’s beneficial, the technology can be taxing for the operators, Walker said.

Tupy took on two-way audio verification. What is two way audio? It is when an alarm trips and the panel initiates two-way audio capabilities, allowing alarm operators to interact with the people on site. Being able to reach people—who might not be on the alarm’s call list—as soon as an alarm is triggered helps reduces false alarm dispatches, he said. Though, you miss what you can’t hear, Tupy said, as sometimes the people on site can be to far from the system to hear or there can be ambient sounds.

Snyder addressed interactive monitoring. This is where analytics in a camera trigger alarm clips to be reviewed, independent of an intrusion alarm. It works well outside, he mentioned. The can be cheaper than guards, provides improved situational awareness, and works with audio, he continued. Some situations are very clear, such as people in ski masks carrying things around a warehouse at night, but the gray area situations are a bit more difficult, Snyder said.

Nakatani spoke about the future of verification. For video verification, he noted on inexpensive devices getting better and the increase in popularity of outdoor cameras. He also connected the trend of two-way audio and more smart speakers throughout a home.

The closing keynote luncheon featured a conversation about school security, moderated by Louisiana State Fire MarshalH. "Butch" Browning, with Guy Grace, director of security and emergency planning for Littleton Public Schools and director of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, and Ryan Petty, SVP of business solutions with Liberty Latin America’s Cable & Wireless subsidiary and founder of The WalkUp Foundation.

This presentation is also personal for Petty, as he lost his daughter Alaina in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that occurred February in Parkland, Fla.

Key themes that the speakers highlighted was that there is often information about potential threats—among students, teachers, parents or other authorities—that isn’t being shared. “There are signs along the way,” Petty said, and that information needs to be shared.

From a security standpoint, one thing that can be done is to get a better idea of who should and shouldn’t be on the school campus, and reducing entry points into the school can help with that, Petty said.

Grace highlighted one new technology that has helped, an app that lets school children report suspicious behavior anonymously.

Ryan encouraged people to be engaged, and look into how their district deals with security issues and threats.

Thursday, June 21

My first session of the second day was “Improving the Customer Interaction Experience: Strategies to Consider Before Implementing IVR in the Monitoring Center.” Here, Peter Giacalone, president of Giacalone Associates, and Morgan Hertel, VP of technology and innovation for Rapid Response Monitoring, presented on interactive voice response technologies, or IVR, and the benefits for the companies that implement them and their users.

The main benefit of IVR is not its reduction of labor for a company like a monitoring, but instead providing a better user experience, and it can be utilized to achieve both, Giacalone said.

Hertel used Rapid Response’s relationship with Connect America, a PERS company, as an example for the benefits of IVR, though he said the technology benefits other companies in the space as well. One observation about senior users of PERS systems is that they often don’t want to bother people or be a burden, Hertel said, and that can be a difficulty when asking them to test their systems frequently. With IVR their test signals are handled quickly, and through automation. He also highlighted the reduced work load for test signals by handling those with IVR.

The rollout process for IVR should be a careful consideration, Hertel said, not something that goes on overnight but rolled out in phases with different groups. 

For a few years now I’ve been hearing about the concept and potential for on demand or pay-as-you-go monitoring models. A panel tackled exactly this topic in “Next Gen Monitoring—Do Monitoring on Demand or Pay-as-you-Use Models Really Work?” Morgan Hertel served as moderator, leading panelists Caroline Brown, EVP form Security Central, Mark Matlock, SVP of UCC, and Thomas Nakatani, IT VP—customer monitoring technology and product, ADT Security.

Customers understand that, with the MIY model, they do need to eventually sleep or go on vacation, Hertel said to open the conversation, and when they don’t want to they’ll seek a professional monitoring options.

UCC does some work with DIY installed systems, such as Lowe’s’ Iris offering. Matlock said that, overall, the company has seen a good adoption rate from MIY set ups to on demand customers.

Asked about the typical usage for monitoring from on demand customers, Matlock and Brown estimated about 10 days. Nakatani mentioned that ADT is a little different in its model, offering one month at a time.

Hertel brought up a key question: while there is an opportunity for new business from offering pay-as-you-go monitoring, will it take revenue out of existing customers who then want to downgrade their system? Each panelist seemed to portray it as more of an opportunity than a risk. Brown said that it’s important to offer the dealers different options, Matlock said that he doesn’t foresee losing many customers to DIY, and Nakatani sees tremendous opportunity for DIY and monitoring on demand.

Don Yaeger, associate editor, Sports Illustrated, NY Times best seller, presented the Thursday general session titled, “Great Teams Understand ‘Why.’”

When Yaeger started looking at what makes great teams great, he said he looked at two types of teams: those that make up exceptional sports teams, and those that make up outstanding companies.

One of the things Yaeger noted on in his presentation was that companies should look for the signs and clues of success from successes in the industry. “The truly great ones are always studying each other,” he said.

He also addressed culture, specifically that a team’s culture will form either through design or default, Yaeger said. And a key part of a culture is understanding why the team is there, who it is that they working for—whether that is friends, family or a certain cause or group of people.

According to Yaeger, culture can influence behavior, behavior brings about habits, and habits can lead to success.

Getting the right people is important for every organization, and several speakers that I’ve heard in the past few years have addressed the challenge with different approaches—and I’ve been interested to hear the variety and universal focus on the matter. That’s why, for the last session of the day, I attended “The Perfect Fit: New Strategies for Attracting and Retaining the Right Operators.” This session featured Michelle Lindus, central station manager for Vivint Smart Home, Steve Crist, director of monitoring, ADS Security, and Bill Kasko, president and CEO, Frontline Source Group.

There are now more job openings than people looking to work, Kasko pointed out, which means that companies are going to have to find individuals in new and ingenious ways. While before companies looked at college recruiting, now some are getting involved at the high school level, to get their brand out to potential employees even earlier, he said.

Lindus brought up that Vivint has programs that event engage parents and children in elementary school.

One thing Kasko recommended was a instituting a referral program, where current employees can recommend their friends for open positions. “Great people know great people,” Kasko said.

Lindus added to that, saying about 30 to 35 percent of new hires come through a referral program. Crist said that 50 percent of new hires that he sees are coming from referral programs.

Crist also stressed that job applicants of all ages ask about possibilities for advancement or developing their careers.

Wednesday, June 20

I started my day with this year’s OpenXchange breakfast. Held on the main stage, Michael Simmons, CEO of Driveway, Mike Soucie, senior product marketing manager for Google, and Jeremy Warren, chief technology officer for Vivint Smart Home gathered for a discussion, moderated by ESX chairman George De Marco.

In large letters projected onto a screen, De Marco highlighted the idea of disruption and some key questions around that topic, such as whether a company is changing as fast as the world around them, or if there are factors blinding a company to change. 

Each of the speakers was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, their company, and their perspective.

Simmons outlined the mission for his company, Driveway, as wanting to cure car crashes. The Driveway app utilizes mobile phone sensors to keep track of driving habits and keep users safer. It can let a parent know if their child is not available to talk or text due to driving and it can alert authorities in the event of a crash, among other functions. “We’re all in the peace of mind business in one way or another,” he told the audience.

Soucie define his role with Google as seeing how Google, Nest and partners work together. He addressed his reason for being—as a company with a primarily DIY product offering—at a professional security conference: “We actually believe there is a tremendous market opportunity for your, for this channel.”

Warren stood up and posed some considerations to the audience around changes in the market place, such as what to do if new companies enter the market with different ideas of profit margins for similar offerings.

Among a variety of questions, De Marco asked was about how to make sure that dealers and integrators remain the preferred home providers.

According to Warren, it’s about finding out where it is that companies are really providing differentiated value.

Soucie brought up making business models around reducing complexity for consumers, as well as hearing from consumers what is important to them.

From Simmons’ perspective, it will be important to have great customer experience, but also around a profitable business model.

The first educational session I attended for ESX 2018 was, “The Monitoring Center of the Future is Here Now! – Technology You Must Leverage to Thrive,” featuring Mike Tupy, director of central station technology at Vivint Smart Home, Ken Green, CEO of ItsPayd, and Justin Bailey, president and COO of AvantGuard.

Tupy opened the session with an overview of several topics. He started with the alarm panel, saying that he hopes attending companies aren’t installing any more systems on POTS lines. Keeping users upgraded is important, he noted, and even if it comes at a fee. His comparison: people will pay to upgrade their cell phones, so why not their security system?

Monitoring companies can also look at their receivers, he said, as a way to increase more accounts coming in or help with redundancy.

Green brought up the changes in paths of communication and how to best reach customers, specifically hitting upon the value of text messages. He offered several reasons for why companies should look into offering text messages: it can provide a competitive edge, it can improve customer experience, it offers flexibility, and it can help reach new younger customers—the millennials.

Bailey covered uses for analytics and other data analysis tools. Staffing is one problem that affects a lot of monitoring centers, he noted. The right analytic tools can provide a better picture of where the best operators are coming from and metrics can show how and why a great operator is a great operator.

Certain tools can also look into alarm traffic and whether the number of operators on staff is perhaps too light or too much.

Tupy added that looking into historical data can also help, such as with knowing roughly what to expect on the Fourth of July as opposed to a more typical Wednesday.

Younger generations that are entering the work force now can be accustomed to plenty of feedback, Bailey said, and the right dashboards can provide information on how an employee has been doing or how they’ve improved.

At this year’s Opening Keynote Luncheon, Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, presented “The Age of Disruption: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different.”

Stratten said that the most effective marketing happens not through marketing campaigns but through interactions between employees and customers. “The front line affects your bottom line,” he said; companies often want good word of mouth but that means doing things that would be worth talking about. Creating stories that evoke an emotion makes them more likely to be shared, Stratten said.

Brands and how they are perceived can change, Stratten said. For instance, he asked the audience to shout what came to mind when they thought of The Ritz-Carlton. Some attendees said “expensive” or “luxury.”

Stratten told the story of a child losing their stuffed animal at a property of The Ritz-Carlton. The child’s parents said that the stuffed giraffe, named Joshie, was just on an extended vacation and would return. A laundry worker found Joshie, recognized its importance, and brought it to the attention of a front desk employee. Joshie was sent back to its family, along with pictures of the toy lounging at the beach or in the spa, working for The Ritz-Carlton—even with a new ID badge made for the giraffe.

Asked again how the audience would define the hotel brand, attendees used words like “caring.”

Tuesday, June 19

I landed late this afternoon in warm Nashville, Tenn., for this year's ESX. It was great to see some familiar faces at the opening reception. I'll be updating this blog with daily updates on the educational sessions I'm attending, the keynote sessions and some of my meetings from the show floor. Be sure to check back for more perspective on the show! 

Live from ESX in Nashville

 - 
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Friday, June 22

Started the last day of ESX sitting in on an excellent session, “Smart Home Market Becoming a Brilliant Opportunity?” featuring Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates; Bruce Mungiguerra, senior vice president of sales & business development, Nortek Security & Control; Thomas Nakatani, IT VP - customer monitoring technology & product, ADT Security; and Shuvankar Roy, vice president, Xfinity Home Comcast.

Abdelrazik started the session by giving an overview of some recent Parks research on the smart home. Looking at the use cases that consumers are interested in for the smart home, she noted, “Security and safety rose to the top and are the key value propositions that consumers understood, followed by access control and energy monitoring and management.”

In terms of smart home device ownership, she noted that 56 percent are security systems owners, with 37 percent saying the main purchase driver was to “keep your home safe.” Safety and security were also the main drivers for purchasing a security system, she said.

Overall, Parks forecasts shows “the market is shifting away from the traditional offering, and more and more consumers are adopting interactive services and home control systems,” said Abdelrazik. “So the competitive landscape is changing and if the dealer isn’t offering home security with interactive services and smart home products, they are really going to fall behind.”

She then looked at the type of security system desired by those who do not currently own one. Based on 2017 data, Parks found that 52 percent would choose “a system that could be monitored or controlled from my phone” while 36 percent would choose “a system that works with other smart devices that are not part of the security system," followed by at 36 percent, “a low cost, no frills solution.”

The top device added after installation included “cameras” at 30 percent, followed closely by motion sensors, door/window sensors and door locks, Abdelrazik noted.

She also shared Parks research on the average upfront price consumers paid for a security system that included smart home devices, which was $1,405, around double what they paid for a basic security system that included a control panel, system sensors and a keypad.

When dealers were asked why they offer smart home services, Parks found the top answer at 76 percent was “based on customer requests,” while the other top responses included “RMR oportunities” and “because our competitors offer it.”

And when dealers were asked what their biggest business challenge is, the No. 1 answer was inability to find qualified personnel. All on the panel agreed that with technology advancing so quickly, especially in the smart home space, hiring will continue to be a challenge. They also see great opportunities for dealers that are embracing this smart home movement and offering smart home options as part of their overall selling approach. Having a “good, better and best” option for customers will help simplify the process for homeowners, they said.

Each of the panelists pointed out that smart home services are driving greater interaction with their systems, which increases the perceived value of a system that prior to the smart home was not there. Customers who are more engaged with their systems spend more money and are easier to retain, the panelists all agreed.

Later that morning I had the pleasure of moderating the last session of the day, “Proven Customer Care Programs: Tips For Getting Started” featuring an excellent panel of John Bazyk, vice president of sales, Command Corporation, and Philip Pearson, president, Smart Home Consulting Group, who each provided great insight into how to engage with and know your customers, including best ways to collect and use data to lower attrition.

Bazyk has been perfecting his company’s customer retention program for several years and shared some of the key tenets of his program, which has helped his company achieve a 99 percent customer satisfaction rate, he pointed out.

The two also looked at best ways for dealers to communicate with their customers, including the importance of having a dedicated mobile app, as well as the potential for creating an e-commerce website and offering DIY products and services.

Next, I attended the Closing Keynote Luncheon, entitled Stronger Security, Safer Schools, which featured a panel that included H "Butch" Browning, state fire marshal, Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal; Guy Grace, director of security and emergency planning, Littleton Public Schools (LPS); and Ryan Petty, senior vice president, business solutions, Cable & Wireless Communications Inc.

Browning started by telling attendees, “You are part of the solution, giving us the equipment and services to help keep everyone safe,” noting that “the security technology piece” should be an integral part of every school’s strategy.

Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina in the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018, said that it is vitally important that parents understand their school district’s security strategy and procedures, most important of which is having a “dedicated person overseeing security,” including overseeing emergency preparedness planning, preparation and training.

Grace agreed, noting that a school must unify and integrate the different systems—fire, access control, video, mass communication, etc.—so the key information—such as red flags that are often raised prior to these tragic events occurring—are received by the right people in the school, as well as law enforcement, so they can possibly prevent these incidents from happening.

Grace pointed to his school’s anonymous messaging system that allows students to share info about other students without fear of being labeled a snitch, which many times prevents students from coming forward with vital info that could have prevented a violent act from occurring.

Thursday, June 21

A key theme for the second full day of ESX was meaningful and interactive education, as the morning and late afternoon educational sessions had something for everyone.

I had the good fortune to start my day moderating a session—“Top 5 Disruptive Technologies Impacting The Commercial Market”—featuring a stellar panel of Steve Butkovich, chief technology officer, CPI Security and Rodger Reiswig, VP, Industry Relations, Johnson Controls Inc., who really played well off each other, presenting their perspective and expertise on each of the five disruptive technologies we decided were most impactful today.

The Top 5 Disruptive Technologies Impacting The Commercial Market that we collectively decided on are:

1.    Cloud-based Solutions
2.    Cybersecurity (IoT, Adaptive Risk, etc.)
3.    Mobile/5G Connectivity
4.    AI/Machine Learning
5.    Biometric Identity Solutions
 
As a group we came up with a definition for what disruptive technology is: "Technology that displaces, replaces or improves on an existing technology or business process and protocol in the marketplace, producing something new and more efficient."

Reiswig and Butkovich looked at how each of these technologies are changing and disrupting what is currently in place, the benefits and potential for each within security, as well as some excellent use cases and examples to illustrate their points.

I also sat in on highly informative session, “Industry Outlook - What You Need to Know,” featuring Jeff Kessler, managing director, Institutional Research, Imperial Capital and Blake Kozak, principal analyst, Smart Home and Security Technology, IHS Markit.

Kozak presented first looking at IHS research on the total equipment market (by technology type) for 2017, pointing out that IHS estimated the total security market in 2017 is worth about $31 billion. By 2021, Kozak said the market is estimated to reach $42 billion globally. Not surprisingly, video surveillance equipment was the leading technology at more than $18 billion.

What was surprising is how much video surveillance dwarfed others on the list, including access control as the next closest at $4 billion, followed by entrance control, intruder alarms, enterprise storage, consumer video surveillance and mobile video and body worn cameras. The two fastest growing areas over the next five years will be enterprise storage and consumer video, like Nest, Kosak said.

Kozak also presented a global forecast for the electronic access control equipment market that showed a CAGR of 6.2 percent from 2016-2021. The global market was worth $4 billion in 2017 and will grow to over $5 billion by 2021. Of this amount the U.S. represents about $1.2 billion or about 33-35 percent. The U.S. market will not decline.

Kozak also got into cybersecurity, noting that recent data suggests that more than 420 million companies were hacked, including data breaches, in 2011, which increased to 4 billion breaches in 2016, “more than a 200 percent increase in a short time,” he pointed out. 

Kessler looked at monitoring trends and how they are affecting the residential and commercial markets and the convergence of physical and logical security.

Kessler presented some interesting findings from a recent survey that Imperial did with 400 police agencies looking at “who gets the first response from a verified call” when given a choice between a professionally monitored security system versus a self monitored DIY system. Interestingly, 331 out of 400 agencies said they give priority to professionally monitored systems over a DIY system, which Kessler astutely pointed out is good news for monitoring companies as it shows the value of professional monitoring today.

Wednesday, June 20

Great to be here in Nashville for ESX 2018, which is off to a great start, from the opening celebration on Tuesday, June 19, at the Country Music Hall of Fame, to a packed first full day on June 20 that featured a stellar—and hilariously funny—keynote presentationfrom from Scott Stratten, president, Unmarketing, entitled “The Age of Disruption: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different.” at the Opening Keynote Luncheon (more on this later).

At the OpenXchange breakfast on Wednesday, ESX chairman George De Marco led a diverse panel that included Michael Simmons, CEO, Driveway, Mike Soucie, senior product marketing manager, Google, and Jeremy Warren, chief technology officer, Vivint Smart Home. The group looked at how disruptive technologies are changing the security landscape.

The panel also looked at how the world we live in is becoming more connected and more automated, from our home to our car to our place of work. The group discussed the relevance of integration services, how to adopt IoT offerings and how to provide more value to customers by taking the complexity out of making a wide variety of devices work together for a truly intelligent home. They also tackled topics such as data privacy and the role of the integrator and dealer in an ever-increasing DIY industry.

Looking at the future of the smart home, Warren said it is “not about the devices, but about the platform that ties it all together.” As the home becomes more of a “thoughtful home,” Warren asked, “What services will homeowners be willing to pay for in the future?”

Soucie added, “Devices should fade into the background,” noting that there are opportunities to “monetize solution bundles.”

The group also got into a good discussion on privacy. With the increase in video and data being produced today, homeowners are becoming more comfortable “trading privacy for convenience,” De Marco pointed out.

De Marco also moderated the counterpoint session of the day, “How will MAGA affect You and the Industry?” featuring Robert Few, managing partner, The Connection Xchange and Kirk MacDowell, president, MacGuard Security Advisors Inc., who looked at how MAGA—MSO’s, Apple, Google and Amazon—is impacting and reshaping the security industry and challenging security dealers today.

Both panelists agreed that MAGA is good for the industry, as they are raising greater awareness for a residential market that has been stuck around the 20 percent penetration rate for as long as anyone can remember. Few said that he believes that these entrants are already helping to drive this penetration rate up into the high 20s.

“I am excited they are here,” Few said. “They make our businesses better.”

Few also pointed out dealers really need to focus on connecting with their customers. “Engagement is key,” he said. “The more, the better.”

This counterpoint session provided some valuable opportunities for the audience to participate and guide the discussion. There was some good discourse around questions about competing with MAGA on pricing and creation costs, as well as installation, support and maintenance, which are key areas where dealers and integrators can differentiate themselves, the panelists pointed out.

Moving to the opening keynote luncheon, Stratton started out looking at the importance of brand, but from a slightly different perspective. He gave a great example of the great extent Ritz-Carlton’s employees went to get a lost teddy bear, Joshie, back to a family that had stayed at the hotel. Hotel staff went above and beyond, overnighting Joshie back to the family, along with sending pictures of Joshie enjoying his extended stay at the pool, Joshie working at the hotel, etc., as well as a Joshie employee badge—the ultimate customer service response that started with the laundry room staff member who found the bear all the way to the front desk person who made sure this issue was resolved.

“We all want word of mouth,” said Stratton, noting that many times companies aren’t doing things that are worthy of it. His example also illustrates the need for great leadership that is willing to empower and trust their employees to do the right thing. For example, the Ritz-Carlton, he said, allows an employee $2,000 to make things right with a guest who has any issue or needs special attention.

“The frontline changes the bottom line,” said Stratton, for better and for worse, depending on the tone and direction from leadership, which is something that is often mistaken for management. “From 30,000 feet up you can’t see the cracks on the ground,” said Stratton, noting that leadership requires that you listen to your employees.

What made this presentation so great was the way Stratton weaved in funny stories and witticisms that resonated with everyone in attendance, from millennials to Gen Xers to baby boomers. 

Following the keynote, and the expo hall ribbon cutting, the winner of the ESX 2018 TECHVISION Challenge Best-of-Show competition was announced. DMP's Virtual Keypad and Dealer Admin took home the top prize.

In addition to the Innovation Awards, attendees honored the recipient of ESA's 2017 Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year Award, Tom Donaldson, during the Opening Celebration. “I’m honored that anyone would take a moment to think that I could stand with these gentlemen,” said Donaldson as he received the award.

The Monitoring Association's 2018 Excellence Awards were also announced and congratulated, including: Patricia Fody, Vector Security, Operator of the Year; Carmelo Mosca, Affiliated Monitoring, Manager of the Year; and Beth Bailey, ADT LLC, Support Person of the Year. Affiliated Monitoring took home the association's coveted Monitoring Center of the Year award.

In other notable news, Chris Mosley, president of Complete Security Systems in New Jersey, was sworn in as ESA president, taking the reins from Angela White, who will now serve as Immediate Past President for the next two years.

Don Childers, chief operating officer of Security Central in North Carolina will serve as the one-year term Vice President.

Two open positions for two-year term vice president were filled by Tim Creenan of Amherst Alarm in New York and Jamie Vos of Security Solutions NW of Washington. Steve Firestone of Select Security in Pennsylvania was installed for another two-year term as Secretary. Steve Paley and Dee Ann Harn will continue to serve in their positions as treasurer and vice president respectively.
 

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